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The 32nd Annual Rose Ceremony

Happy faces and gorgeous skies as far as the eye could see at the 32nd annual Rose Ceremony at SHHS. Celebrating the future class of 2034 and the class of 2023, this year's event was true to its storied history, chock full of beautiful, yet bittersweet, moments.  A cherished Tarrytown tradition, The Rose Ceremony  began as a way to mark the start of the young students' path through the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns in the fall, followed by a gesture of good luck to graduating seniors in the spring. The majority of seniors participating today first exchanged a rose as first grade students in 2011.

The simple gesture of the seniors giving the first graders a rose and a SHHS t-shirt is a rite of passage for students in the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns and was the idea of Mimi Godwin, former PTA President and School Board Member.  Ms. Godwin and then SHHS principal wanted to create a way to honor both the beginning and end of the childrens’ educational journeys. “We recognized that there was a shared, special feeling for families on both ends of this journey,” said Ms. Godwin.  “Joining a family at the start and saying goodbye at the end is bittersweet. The passing of a rose symbolizes love and caring and is a beautiful visual to convey this emotion.”

In the spring the first graders will hand back a rose to the upcoming graduates marking the start of graduation celebrations a few weeks later.

Principal Brand and Principal Walley addressed the Morse first graders and the Sleepy Hollow seniors explaining the significance of the ceremony.  

“This is a community that cares about you. First graders, this community is here to guide you through your educational journey and, seniors, this community will be here when you venture out into the world,” said Principal Walley.  

Principal Brand continued: “Seniors, first you are remembering the core of yourself, as delicate as a rose petal and how it shapes the person that you really are. Second, you are keeping that beauty alive in another person by handing a rose to a first grader - a  rose that is a gift of a journey’s beginning.”

Seniors were reminiscing, and as they watched their classmates gift roses they recognized this was a moment they’ll always remember.   One senior remarked, “I can’t believe I’m a senior, I so clearly remember the rose ceremony when I was in first grade like it was yesterday. I feel like I might cry!” 

The first graders all had their special way of receiving their rose, some high-fived, some hugged, some shook hands, and some simply reached out, but all I proudly walked away with their rose held high and a grin ear to ear.

For Ms. Godwin, whose granddaughter is a first grade student at Morse and whose daughter participated in the 2000 Rose Ceremony as a senior, it was nostalgic to participate as the creator and as grandparent in one of the district’s longest and most treasured traditions. “I wish all the students a wonderful journey ahead as they cross the field today,” she said. “I hope they feel enveloped in the love and support of the entire school family community, behind them now and always.”